Some interesting articles for the week of August 10, 2020 to August 17, 2020:

  • Education and Cognitive Functioning Across the Life Span: Authors find that there is no effect of education on decline in cognitive ability over the lifespan, but educational attainment does increase the peak of cognitive ability that people reach, which in leads to higher valleys later in life.

  • Partisan ideological attitudes: Liberals are tolerant; the intelligent are intolerant: This one is paywalled, unfortunately, but it seems to gather further evidence for a troubling finding: the intelligent can be particularly intolerant. The explanation I’ve seen for this finding is that intelligent people are particularly adept at coming up with rationalizations for intolerant behavior. However, that explanation seems to be at odds with how popular movements spread – education.

  • How to Study Racial Disparities: Awesome article on how to study racial disparities.

  • Can Short Psychological Interventions Affect Educational Performance? Revisiting the Effect of Self-Affirmation Interventions: Apparently not. There does seem to be some good evidence for the effectiveness of short growth-mindset intervetions, but looks like this self-affirmation study didn’t. I’m very curious as to how growth mindset boosts educational performance, and how those mechanisms differ from self-affirmation. I can’t think of a convincing reason why one would be effective over the other. These questions make me think about the importance of studies with small numbers of people measured precisely (and repeatedly) over time. Growth mindset is supposed to work by making me think that if I work hard, I can be become smarter, so I wind up working harder. But wouldn’t a self-affirmation intervention do the same? Maybe it’s not as an effective messenger as growth mindset – saying, “I am smart” can be easily refuted internally (“then why’d you fail the test, dummy”), whereas believing I can become smarter might push me to keep working harder.

  • The Effects of Dance Movement Therapy in the Treatment of Depression: A Multicenter, Randomized Controlled Trial in Finland. Pretty big effet size for Dance Movement Therapy; I think there needs to be way more studies like this. There are a lot of alternatives to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy out there, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy doesn’t work for everybody. People looking for care, especially for informal therapies like dance or general exercise, should know what there is research support for.

  • Victims, perpetrators, or both? The vicious cycle of disrespect and cynical beliefs about human nature.: I like this. From the abstract: “Everyday experiences of disrespect elevated cynical beliefs and vice versa. Moreover, cynical individuals tended to treat others with disrespect, which in turn predicted more disrespectful treatment by others. In short, experiencing disrespect gives rise to cynicism and cynicism elicits disrespect from others, thereby reinforcing the worldview that caused these negative reactions in the first place.”

  • (Un)Happiness and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections: County-level future evaluation (ratings of how respondents expect their lives to to be 5 years from now) correlated with Trump vote share over Republican baselines at r = -.78. That’s an insanely high correlation.

  • Influence of Prior Beliefs on Perception in Early Psychosis: Effects of Illness Stage and Hierarchical Level of Belief: The present findings can be interpreted in the hierarchical predictive coding framework. This framework suggests that the brain models the world by making predictions about upcoming sensory input that are subsequently updated by discrepancies between the predictions regarding the sensory input and the actual sensory input, termed the prediction error (Bastos et al., 2012; Clark, 2013; Friston, 2005; Hohwy, 2013; Knill & Pouget, 2004; Rao & Ballard, 1999). In these models, abnormal perception and delusional beliefs can be expected to occur when the balance between the prior expectations and sensory input is shifted (Fletcher & Frith, 2009), as was found in the present experiment. That is, sensory input can come to dominate perception, likely resulting in the subjective experience of being overwhelmed by their sensory environment and attributing importance to otherwise irrelevant stimuli, as is sometimes reported in the early, including prodromal, stages of psychosis (Bowers, 1968; Corlett et al., 2011; Freedman & Chapman, 1973; McGhie & Chapman, 1961). This paper is complicated, it was very helpful for me to review some other papers in the same framework ( here and here)